The world is evolving at a rate most of us cannot keep up with. Most of the population connects to technology in a way that permeates every aspect of their lives. Many these days, myself included, are addicted to scrolling on our phones rather than being present and in the moment, for it is the great escape.
We are easily bored, yet our attention span has been forever altered.
Technology is Both a Blessing and a Curse
Tech, the internet— truly brings so much opportunity, especially for those who wish to escape the traditional 9 to 5 grind, even if the trade is a 24/7 hustle. What’s more, no matter where you are in life, there is some video or post out there proving it’s never too late to go for your dreams or that the only thing holding you back is you. Thus, the allure of the internet is that I might finally gain the type of freedom and artistic life I have been in search of, but at what cost?
And what happens when you feel late to the game and don’t want to be there all the same?
I am, what one might call, a Luddite. Born in the late 80s, I am from the last generation to know what it means to truly be unreachable, to take a fake photo horizontal rather than vertical, to have memories only in my mind and not tucked away on some phone or cloud in the ether. I was the last of my friends to give up my gigantic, portable CD player for the now-defunct iPod, and I often wonder if I should just get a landline (a yellow rotary phone with an unending cord, preferably) in an attempt to curve my ever-growing attachment to apps that often induce comparison, amongst other things.
This is the struggle I find myself in— wanting to be in a world that sets me free but also wanting to be in the world. I am addicted to my phone, but oddly enough, if it were taken away tomorrow, I would think nothing of it.
Or would I?
Technology has paved the way for people to work from home, create businesses out of their passion, make more money than they ever could at their day job, and build communities and platforms that mean something— that start revolutionary movements. But I often feel I have lived through the golden age of the internet because as it evolves, I genuinely fear where it’s going or perhaps has already gone. I fear how much it has taken over.
And though I am not averse to technology, my time on social media is a testament to that; I also remember when it simply wasn’t part of my world to the extent, it is now. There is a longing in me for “simpler times.”
Nothing Comes Without a Price
When Instagram first came out, I was eager to be a part of it and tried for years to establish myself as a traveler, reader, and writer until I quickly faded into the background—the abyss, if you will. All of my personal social media has been private and collecting dust for several years now. I never seemed to have that particular drive to capture and curate portions of my days and life like so many others. I didn’t want to do the behind-the-scenes work because it often felt too personal and tedious all at once. (I hate having to edit my face over and over and over while listening to the sound of my voice.)
As life went on, however, and I moved states, countries, and jobs, I realized that if I wanted to actually make a go of being my own boss, the only one who induced my anxiety— the internet appeared to be the only way to go— you know, so potentially hundreds or thousands can aid in my mental breakdown. (That’s the dream, I think?)
The web, as I’ve written, is ever-evolving, and today I find it even less comprehendible than I did back in 2010, much less 2016. But through all my jobs and mental anguish, and far too many bathroom breakdowns, wondering how I would get through another day—my creativity has always simmered. My soul has incessantly called for me to do something more than punch numbers and a time clock, and the internet, no matter how hesitant it makes me, seems to be the only viable way to make that happen in this day and age.
It’s not that I don’t want to learn or work hard, maybe that’s how my words might seem, whiny and lazy, but any manager would sing my praises. I know what I am capable of, but my blogs and social media often failed in the past because I never felt comfortable putting myself fully out there, and it never felt right putting so much of me online.
Nowadays it feels like my whole world is digital, that even when out in a beautiful field on a warm summer’s day, it’s not about smelling the flowers but what angle to capture them best. And though I am trying not to shy away from the process and what it takes to build an online platform, the dread of constantly creating for the internet and not just myself remains a thorn in my side.
The End of Hustle Culture, But I’m Just Getting Started, And I Don’t Want to Be Here at All
Everything is apparently over-saturated and dying (or at least that’s what people like to say every few months or so), and TikTok is not what it used to be when the kids were running it, and I still don’t know what an NFT is. Gone are the days when Facebook was only for the college kids to write silly posts on their friends’ walls (before we knew just how severely the internet and forever went hand in hand).
So it’s not really that I am late and have no rhythm, but that I’ve finally decided to enter the conversation somewhere in the middle, or perhaps close to the end, and it can be hard to then find your footing.
And the Luddite in me lingers on the visions I had of being a writer, the one where I wrote to the sound of birds and rain pattering at my window. I pictured typewriters and red pencils to markup draft pages, phone calls with my editor, and hours thumbing through books for research. I had ideas and pitches to magazines that would pay me for my words as I wrote my next novel. However, most of my days are a far cry from the cozy writing scene I envisioned.
No, most of my days revolve around creating content for Tik Toks, figuring out how to market my book with absolutely no money to put behind it, and wondering if I will make my rent next month (at least I got the starving artist portion of this whole shebang right). Because being a business or brand online, if you’re just starting out— means you wear all the hats at all times, and there is no rest because to rest means to fall behind.
Then, of course, there is the feeling that everything is a mountain of a learning curve even when I’m familiar with the platform; and just when I think I’ve figured out the mystery that is the algorithm— it changes. I’m in a constant state of multitasking while trying to make sure my personal accounts don’t somehow sync with my business endeavors, and the frustration of thinking, if only I had figured this out years ago, needles me.
But the truth is I have always been someone with one foot in and one foot out. I can see how pursuing my dreams online can, and hopefully will change my whole world, but I also clearly long for quiet days with no phone in hand and a cool breeze through the window as the summer sun finally begins its descent.
Days of unending marketing and content creation that are far from the writing I want to be doing make me question if this is the life for me or if I have scrolled a bit too far into the depths of other’s realities? Yet the idea of going back to a life where I’m too tired to create at all and constantly fulfilling the demands of others makes my soul itch and my heart break.
Since time stops for no one, and the years keep zooming by, it no longer works to stand still either. One, eventually, has to make a move, no matter how frozen they appear to be.
Learning to Dance, Because Better Late Than Never
Finding my rhythm and voice has been the most challenging part of this never-ending journey. I have been giving it my all, especially these past few months, even as my bank account dwindles dangerously close to zero. The pandemic was the firm push where my world, like many others, turned upside down to make a real go of it, even if I continuously struggle with how to navigate all my feelings and inner demons when it comes to the world wide web.
I am trying to recognize my strengths and understand how to serve myself in the real world while building a platform in the digital—knowing that I can find success without becoming a mindless content machine despite what I thought in the past. And though most days still feel overwhelming as I’m sorting out all the puzzle pieces, I can’t say I regret any of the decisions that finally got me here. It feels good to have stepped into the waters with both feet. To take the risk, to create, if not for myself, then for those who might never get the chance.
And besides, we all have to do things we don’t want to from time to time. It’s about the whole dream, not parts of it.
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